A memorial was held in Netanya on Sunday for Rabbi Moshe Talbi, who was found dead, one year ago, outside the town of Revava in Samaria. Attorney Shmuel Lankry, Rabbi Talbi’s brother-in-law, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the family’s feelings, one year on.
Lankry expressed anger with police, who wrongly labeled the death a suicide until a media campaign forced them to reopen the case. Because officers failed to consider the possibility of murder, they did not set up checkpoints right away to catch Rabbi Talbi’s killers.
As a result, he said, “The killers are walking around free.”
Rabbi Talbi was found dead in his car after being shot with his personal weapon. Despite signs of violence on his body, the presence of six bullet shells in the car, and video evidence showing a second car leaving the scene at the time the rabbi was killed, the death was ruled a suicide almost immediately. His family was told that the rabbi had killed himself.
The family, however, refused to believe it. They hired a private pathologist, Dr. Hen Kogel, who found that the evidence pointed to murder. Armed with her findings, the family began a campaign to reopen the case – a campaign that eventually led to a Knesset hearing on the matter, during which police representatives told MKs that they were considering the possibility that the rabbi had been murdered by terrorists.
Police officers’ initial statements in the case “destroyed a family,” Lankry accused. “It was a second murder. After Rabbi Talbi was murdered, the police murdered his good name. Now people in the town where he lived, Hispin, hear the family’s version of the story, but some believe the police’s version.”
What happened in the investigation into Rabbi Talbi’s death should be a warning, Lankry said. “Something like this could happen to anyone.” Lankry said he has been approached by several families who feel that their loved ones’ deaths were wrongly labeled suicides, but “they don’t have the strength to stand up to the police and open their own investigation.”
Months ago, Rabbi Talbi’s widow Bruria declared that she had forgiven police for falsely labeling her husband’s death a suicide.
Her declaration followed a similar scandal in the case of Asher and Yonatan Palmer, a young father and son murdered by terrorists. Their deaths were initially declared a traffic accident. Only after media pressure did police announce that the two were killed not by careless driving, but by PA terrorism.